2 Unique Bubble-Top Cars at AutoFair
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Legendary custom car builder Darryl Starbird will display two of his classic creations-the glass-domed Predicta and Starship-during the April 12-15 Food Lion AutoFair at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Starbird, whose 53-year career has generated hundreds of groundbreaking hot rods and show cars, was a young man in Wichita, Kan., when he began turning his 1947 Cadillac into a California-style custom.
Cars from the Star Kustom Shop were soon being featured on the covers of enthusiast magazines such as Hot Rod and Rod & Custom, but it wasn't until a candy-colored 1957 Thunderbird named "LePerle" took top honors during the 1959 National Hot Rod Association's National Custom Car Show that Starbird was recognized as one of the best automotive modifiers in the country.
The following year, the Midwestern auto re-designer raised the bar for his industry by debuting "Predicta"-a glass-domed two-seater that started life as a 1956 Thunderbird, but came to resemble a jet fighter on wheels. Rather than retain a boring factory interior, Starbird outfitted Predicta with a joystick steering control that could be operated from either the left or right seat, a television screen and pushbuttons for every conceivable function.
The car was a mindblower, earning four magazine covers, Motor Life's Top Custom of 1960 award, the coveted 12-foot-tall International Motorama trophy and every other possible honor during a 17-week tour of 15 states.
As its name suggested, Predicta was a harbinger of things to come from the Star Kustom Shop, which would eventually experiment with 15 more glass-domed cars, earning their creator the title "Bubble Top King." Because he considered the glass dome a natural next step for the passenger car's evolution, Starbird gave his cars names that would not sound out of place in a "World of Tomorrow" exhibit: "Forcasta," "Futurista," "Cosma Ray,"
"Illusion," and "Starship," to name a few. Starbird built Starship, which will accompany Predicta to the Food Lion AutoFair, on a 1972 Chevrolet Camaro chassis in 1981. Unlike many show vehicles produced by automakers, all of Starbird's cars are fully functional and can be driven on the street.
In 1995, Starbird founded the National Rod and Custom Car Hall of Fame Museum in Oklahoma. The 40,000-square-foot facility is home to many of his shop's famous creations, but Food Lion AutoFair attendees will have a rare opportunity to see Predicta and Starship without having to leave the Carolinas.
Other attractions scheduled for the Food Lion AutoFair include an Evolution of the Stock Car exhibit; prized rides of NASCAR stars Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart; and a real-life version of "Doc Hudson" from the animated hit movie "CARS." The Food Lion AutoFair, the world's largest automotive extravaganza, attracts more than 160,000 visitors and features 50-plus car club displays, more than 10,000 vendor spaces and a collector car auction conducted by Tom Mack. More than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
AutoFair hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5.
For information, contact the speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.